A LONG-STANDING border dispute between Kompong Cham villagers and their
Vietnamese neighbors briefly threatened to flare into violence
Kompong Cham governor Hun Neng confirmed the incident where
Vietnamese authorities - and armed soldiers - used bulldozers to raze around 100
hectares of farmland and cashew crops.
"Sometimes we almost roll our
shirt sleeves up at one another," Hun Neng told the Post. However, he said that
following meetings between Cambodian and Vietnamese border officials the two
sides "have agreed to the status quo."
The incident occurred on May 22 in
Chan Moul commune of Memot district 86km east of the provincial town, where
Vietnamese soldiers from Post 819 accused the Cambodian farmers of planting
cashews on Vietnamese soil.
Local officials confirmed that the soldiers
fired over the heads of local farming families, as both sides claimed ownership
of the disputed land.
Hun Neng said the Cambodian border soldiers had
been advised not to counter-attack the Vietnamese troops. He said the problem of
land disputes in the area had happened since the Sangkum Reastr Niyum period.
Currently, the problem is a continuing one in seven communes in Memot
district and three communes in Ponhea Krek district, he said. This involves more
than 3,000 hectares of disputed land.
The governor said the Vietnamese
local authority had told the Khmer farmers to write a request to rent plots of
farm land from them, "but we've forbidden our people to do so lest [the
Vietnamese] use this [to later prove ownership]," Hun Neng said.
the two sides had often reach agreement, only for the Vietnamese commune and
village authorities to ignore and continue harassing the Khmer
"Now we are wondering whether it is their [the commune's] own
decision or tricks from the top," Hun Neng said.
Deputy Prime Minister
Sar Kheng was quoted by Reaksmei Kampuchea in a meeting with provincial
governors on June 9 as saying that he would organize a delegation to inspect the
Kheng said he had advised the Kompong Cham governor to
report any changes on the land issues to the Ministry of Interior.
last year, Hun Neng sent a report to the co-Prime Ministers that about 870
hectares of land in Memot and Krek districts had been lost to the Vietnamese.
However, some communes had not recorded their land loss, he said.
governor said that the Vietnamese could move border signs but not landmarks such
as pagodas, villages and roads. In Svay Rieng province, a Cambodian temple was
on land that was being claimed as Vietnamese territory.
A total of 1200
square km of border land in Takeo, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kompong Cham and
Kampot provinces is in dispute.
The government last year set up a
committee headed by the co-Prime Ministers to consider border issues.